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May 11, 2022

Kontoor Brands names Annan-Brown as global ESG chief

Kontoor Brands, owner of the Wrangler and Lee jeans brands, has appointed Mame Annan-Brown as global head of environmental, social and governance (ESG).

By Fi Forrest

Effective immediately, Annan-Brown will lead the integration of Kontoor Brands’ global ESG efforts, spearheading strategy, integration, reporting and engagement across the brand’s ongoing commitment to environmental, health and safety, corporate social responsibility, corporate governance, sustainability, diversity and inclusion.

“Now more than ever building a strong ESG strategy is not only the right thing to do, but it will help ensure Kontoor’s success – and the success of our shareholders – for years to come,” said Annan-Brown. “I am honoured to have the opportunity to work alongside our exceptional teams to further integrate ESG into our strategic vision.”

Last September (2021) Kontoor announced its official commitment to set a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target that is aligned with the United Nations Paris Agreement, and confirmed its commitment with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which aims to drive ambitious climate change action in the private sector by enabling companies to set science-based emission reduction targets. 

Annan-Brown will also represent Kontoor Brands as an active participant in organisations promoting ESG issues across the business landscape, while continuing with her role overseeing global communications and public affairs. 

ESG is central to Kontoor’s mission and continued success as a responsible and sustainable organisation, explained Scott Baxter, President, CEO & chair of the board for Kontoor Brands. 

“In addition to Mame’s more than two decades of experience at global institutions at the forefront of ESG and sustainable investing, including the World Bank Group and JPMorgan Chase, she also brings a depth of experience in shaping and driving holistic business strategies. Her demonstrated leadership and passion for these critical issues make her an outstanding fit for this role,” Baxter said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done so far as a company: launching our sustainability framework, declaring our DEI goals, and keeping our focus on the community,” he added.  

WeCare Wrangler 

One of Kontoor’s current ESG projects is the Wrangler jeans brand’s goal of 100% sustainable cotton usage by 2025, with all of the cotton in its latest Rooted Collection traceable to individual US farms.

Wrangler has developed a new platform that outlines its sustainability targets – the WeCare Wrangler sustainability platform – which builds off steps Wrangler has taken and sets out its sustainability goals.  

Jeff Frye VP, global product development, procurement, innovation and sustainability, Kontoor Brands, explained to Just Style what the WeCare Wrangler platform represents. 

“The platform was built to address three primary focus areas: doing right by people, creating less overall waste in apparel production, and protecting the planet. Wrangler now references these goals in the development of collaborations and collections, including the Rooted Collection, which includes jeans and shirts made from 100% sustainable cotton.”  

The brand has committed to achieving 100% sustainable cotton usage by 2025, Frye says. “The Rooted Collection is helping to make strides towards this goal, by utilising cotton that is traceable to individual farms in each jean’s respective state. Each farm was selected for the program due to their commitment to responsible land stewardship and soil health best practices, including various water-saving techniques and regenerative agriculture.”  

Frye says the Wrangler brand is continuously searching for opportunities to work with partners and suppliers. 

“Recent steps towards achieving the brand’s sustainability goals have included signing onto the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Jeans Redesign guidelines and joining their Make Fashion Circular initiative. The Rooted Collection is one of multiple sustainability initiatives in the works and is focused on promoting traceability and transparency in terms of how products are made sustainably. The Rooted Collection is made completely from “farm to label”, and each jean features custom stamps on the pockets that spotlight each farmer’s name and signature, confirming that their respective cotton was used to create a new pair of iconic Wrangler denim,” says Frye. 

Full integration of ESG priorities

To ensure full integration of Kontoor’s ESG priorities across its businesses, Annan-Brown will lead Kontoor’s ESG Council, comprised of Kontoor leadership globally, to ensure a highly integrated, coordinated approach to ESG, says Kontoor. The Council will work to establish a foundational ESG framework and roadmap that establishes Kontoor’s priorities and vision relating to ESG matters, and prioritises and recommends policies, practices, and disclosures that conform with the strategy.

Baxter added: “We’re thrilled to expand Mame’s role to oversee this important element of our business, allowing her to further champion our ongoing commitment to ESG as we work to raise the bar on ourselves and our industry.”

Kontoor Brands latest filings report revenue amounted to US$680m for the first quarter ended 2 April, 2022. 

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